Northland Regional Council increases Māori input

2:21 pm on 22 November 2019

A new climate change working party and increased Māori and independent representation are among key changes to the Northland Regional Council's freshly-agreed governance structure for the next three years.

Northland Regional Council members Marty Robinson (left), John Bain, Justin Blaikie (deputy chair), Penny Smart (chair), Jack Craw, Joce Yeoman, Rick Stolwerk, Colin (Toss) Kitchen and Amy Macdonald.

Northland Regional Council members Marty Robinson (left), John Bain, Justin Blaikie (deputy chair), Penny Smart (chair), Jack Craw, Joce Yeoman and Rick Stolwerk. Not seen in the photo are Colin (Toss) Kitchen and Amy Macdonald. Photo: Susan Botting

In the aftermath of the last month's local body elections, one of the first issues newly-elected Northland councils must turn their collective minds to is what sort of committees, subcommittees and other groups they'll have - and who will chair them.

Council chairperson Penny Smart said legally the regional council must have - or be a member of - three committees. These are:

  • The Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group (a joint committee of all four councils in Northland)
  • The Regional Transport Committee (made up of selected regional council members along with representatives of all three district councils and the New Zealand Transport Agency)
  • Te Oneroa-a-Tōhē/Ninety Mile Beach Board (the regional council has two representatives on this board).

Mr Smart said, with four newcomers among the nine who make up the newly-elected regional council, the governance structure formally agreed to on Tuesday reflected the mix of fresh and experienced faces, as well as a chance to collectively address some existing and emerging issues over the next three years.

The council will also have a number of other governance bodies, including a climate change working party, chaired by new councillor Amy Macdonald. This working party will provide oversight on council's climate change activities and make recommendations on climate change matters.

Kaipara-based Smart, a second-term councillor, says the council will once again have a standalone Te Taitokerau Māori and Council Working Party (TTMAC), which this term will be made up of 21 Māori representatives nominated by tangata whenua from around Northland. All regional councillors will also be members of the working party.

However, in a change from the previous administration, the new council will also include five TTMAC members on its water and land working party and four TTMAC members on the new climate change working party, biosecurity and biodiversity working party and planning and regulatory working party.

"Effectively, that means there will be equal numbers of Māori members and councillors on our working parties, providing a more effective opportunity for Māori to participate in council decision-making processes. In line with standard local government practice, as overall council chairperson I'll be an additional, ex-officio member of all council committees and working parties."

Other governance bodies over the next three years will include an audit and risk sub-committee as well as an investment and property sub-committee.

"The new council will have three independent advisor positions across these two key sub-committees to provide expert, independent opinion to ensure we have the best information possible on which to base our decisions - as well as providing a solid foundation of expert advice in specialist areas."

The joint Whangarei District-Northland Regional Councils' Whangarei public transport working party - will once again be providing oversight on the city's public transport issues in a bid to increase patronage and oversee the integration of city and district planning on public transport issues.

A full list of the council's governance structure, its members - and what each body does -[ can be found online].

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